Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Shape Of Water - review

The Shape Of Water arrives on our shores riding the crest of a wave, buoyed by two Golden Globes, 12 BAFTA nominations and 13 Oscar nominations. But does the film sink or swim under the high expectations of all that praise?
Thankfully Guillermo Del Toro's film exceeds all expectations and simply put; is one of the most beautiful, stunning, moving fairy tales ever to grace the silver screen and it is deserving of so many superlatives that, just as the lead character, one struggles to find the words to describe how fantastic it truly is.
Del Toro is a filmmaker who has made his career by taking the monstrous and macabre and finding the beauty and humanity that lies beneath the horrific exterior e.g. Pan in Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy and Jessica Chastain in Crimson Peak.
Often switching between Spanish and English language features (Cronos, The Devil's Backbone to Blade II and Pacific Rim), Del Toro's unique style of visual storytelling can transcend the barriers of language. Pan's Labyrinth remains one of the biggest foreign language films ever to screen in the UK and with The Shape of Water, he proves that the power of language and speech is no barrier to love.
Set in the early 60's, Richard Jenkins's illustrator narrates to the audience a story of a mute woman who falls in love with an aquatic man while working in a top secret government facility.
In some ways, the film feels like it could have been the inspiration for the Creature From The Black Lagoon. In fact, the shadowy government agent played with a menacing relish by Michael Shannon says that they captured it from the Amazon, the same location as the original monster.
The production design of the creature is simply incredible and such a delight to see that it is (practically) all practical effects. Del Toro's lucky charm Doug Jones once again brings the film's beast to life opposite the beauty of Hawkins' Eliza.
The setting of the 60's is no accident, for this adult fairy tale is a story is about love and acceptance.
The four main characters of Eliza, Giles, Zelda and Hoffstetler all have to put up with rejection and persecution due to their disability, sexuality, race and nationality (most often at the hands of the real monster of the piece Shannon's Strickland).  All of them, through their interactions with the creature will ultimately learn to accept who they are and stand up for what they believe in, no matter what the cost.
There is not a single fish out of water when it comes to the performances. Hawkins and Jones have a wonderful chemistry together. Jenkins brings a touching gravitas as only he can to the lovelorn, fatherly figure of Giles and Stuhlbarg makes it a hat trick of Oscar nominated films between this, The Post and Call Me By Your Name.
Just as those two films perfectly captured the era they took place in, Paul Austenberry's production design is simply spectacular. Combined with the cinematography and art direction, it gives the whole thing the look and feel of a Douglas Sirk film or another recent movie about forbidden romance, Carol.
The love story here is just as passionate and sensual as that one and is certainly for adults only. But then what fairy tale, at its heart is not about sexual awakening?
This is one fairy tale that is anything but Grimm and can look forward to a fairy tale ending when it makes a splash at the Oscars.

5 stars

Monday, 29 January 2018

Bright (Netflix Originals) - review

In my first big change for review writing for 2018, it is time to recognise streaming services original content as part of the film release calendar and review them accordingly.
After all last year brought the likes of the excellent Gerald's Game, Cannes Film Festival competitor Okja and Amazon Studios Oscar-winning Manchester By The Sea.
Following on from the Oscar-nominated Mudbound, December brought Netflix's most expensive original production Bright, at a cool $90 million. Although this has now been surpassed by Scorsese's The Irishman at a budget of $100 million.
It wouldn't have been a Netflix original release with a little bit of controversy and Bright dutifully supplied it. Many critics called it one of the worst films of 2017 and Netflix fired back claiming it was their most popular original release with 11 million views in its first three days.
While its true that 11 million views on Netflix, which is a paid subscription, is not equal to 11 million people paying $15 to watch a film in a cinema during its opening weekend, it was certainly enough for Netflix to greenlight a sequel. Clearly they are banking on a large percentage of those views being people who enjoyed it and not just clicking on it to see if it was as bad as the reviews made out.
This reviewer was certainly in the latter category to begin with but it is not anywhere near as bad as 2017 films such as Transformers: The Last Knight and The Snowman.
Just like Ayer's Suicide Squad, this is a case of poor execution and wasted potential. For there is something at the heart of Bright that could have made for a great limited series with a new spin on the procedural detective/mismatched buddy cop drama.
Instead the result is an End of Watch retread with two police partners forced to work through their own issues with each other whilst trying to stop the end of the world... Oh, that's right, Bright is set in a world where Humans, Orcs and Elves live side by side.
Imagine if Lord Of The Rings had ended with Sauron being destroyed and all the different armies called an uneasy truce until the modern day.
The film begins with very little in the way of world building, instead focusing on Will Smith's police officer returning to duty after being shot while on duty with the very first Orc police officer Nick Jacoby (played with humour and pathos by Joel Edgerton). The rest of the department want Jacoby gone because he doesn't fit in, and before you say it, yes it does feel very similar to the plot of Zootropolis at this point.
There are bigoted fellow cops and underhanded schemes to frame the Orc but before you can say Internal Affairs, the two partners are called to a disturbance where they discover the one ring that will rule them all... wait, no, they find a magic wand which is wanted by every single criminal in the city and it turns into a fight to survive the night.
From here it is a very generic, straight up action film that lacks the wit and charm needed to sell the more ridiculous aspects of the story. For example, at no point does Will Smith witness something crazy and shout "Awwww hell no!". Missed opportunities!
There remains untapped potential that could turn the sequel into something special but Bright is sadly a dim and dull affair with the risk that as it is on Netflix, audiences may not get to the end of their watch.

2 stars

Mudbound (Netflix Originals) - review

2017 was quite the year for Netflix. Not only was it the year that it broke through with its original film programming, it was the year I finally discovered that "Netflix and Chill" was not just about watching movies on the sofa!
They had quality genre hits such as The Babysitter and the excellent Gerald's Game that caused several people, including me, to do this...

But 2017 was the year that Netflix decided that they wanted to compete with the big boys and be taken seriously. Could they do it? "Yes we Cannes!" and Netflix went to France to compete in the Cannes Film Festival with Book Jong-Ho's Okja and Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories.
Did it go as planned? Not quite. The French in particular were against the idea of films playing in competition that would not receive a cinematic release, head judge Pedro Almodovar said that the films would never win a prize and the controversy overshadowed two good films and a very rare thing... a great Adam Sandler performance.
Netflix decided they were not going to let that stop them and have doubled down on their original programming; organising a deal with Curzon for limited runs of the films to appear on their screens, financing $100 million for Martin Scorsese's The Irishman starring DeNiro, Pacino and Pesci and now they have gone legit are entered the Oscar race with Mudbound.
Amazon Studios were the first to the podium last year with Manchester By The Sea but Mudbound is the sole streaming film in the race this year and received 4 Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actress, Best Song, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
The cinematography nomination is well deserved, and history making as Rachel Morrison became the first female cinematographer to be ever receive one. The film looks stunning and every shot captures the feeling of the Deep South in Forties America.
Mudbound tells the story of two families, the Macallan's and the Jackson's. Linked by land, the film explores their relationships defined by race, class and the fall out of WWII with both families giving their men to the war but find they are treated differently upon their return.
Performances across the board are as strong as the liquor and tensions that brewed in Mississippi, with particular standouts being Garret Hedlund, Jason Mitchell and Jonathan Banks as the deeply racist Pappy.
The film really comes into its own once the war is over and it explores the friendship between Hedlund's Jamie and Mitchell's Ronzell, which will ultimately come to define both families.
The main issue with the storytelling is the decision of director Dee Rees and screenwriter Virgil Williams is the over-reliance on voice-over narration.
Given it is adapted from a novel and this was the structure of the book, it is understandable however as Robert McKee in Adaptation would scream "...and God help you if you use voice-over in your work, my friends. God help you. That's flaccid, sloppy writing. Any idiot can write a voice-over narration to explain the thoughts of a character."
So not only does the audience get one voice-over, it gets six different characters narrating their own parts of the story and at times, the narrative becomes as clear as mud.
Thankfully the narration does not overshadow the performances and the result is a film that shows that if the commissioning team at Netflix continue to fund films and stories like this, they are Bound for glory.

3 stars

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Early Man - review

One minute into Nick Park's new Aardman animation Early Man, a meteor hits the Earth killing off the dinosaurs yet leaving cavemen alive and miraculously unharmed with a football shaped meteorite to covet and play games with.
Not only does that meteor wipe out two dinosaurs (revealed in the end credits to be called Ray and Harry, in one of the film's few deft touches) but any chances of a fish-out-of-water storyline where a Stone Age Caveman must struggle to interact with the dawning of a new Bronze Age are also gone in sixty seconds.
For Early Man is actually nothing more than a prehistoric tribute to the Beautiful Game. It's no coincidence that the film lasts 90 minutes, the same length as a match.
Even if the takeaway from the first couple of minutes could be that the only people interested in football are neanderthals, it is clear that Park has an affection for football. One can even deduce his favourite team is probably Arsenal given that the characters who is the most proficient at the sport is called Goona.
There was certainly huge potential here. The primitive Stone Age vs the wealth of the Bronze Age in a match for the valley? It's an underdog story as strong as Leicester City's in the Premiership.
An early scene in the Bronze Age market with shops like Flint Eastwood and food stalls like Jurassic Pork showcased gags are sharp as flint and potential for jokes about the early men adapting to this new age but they are shown the red card in a game of two halves in favour of tropes such as training montages and bad sports puns as tired and old as the savages playing the game.
Talented voices like Tom Hiddleston (doing his best French Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) give it their best shot but they are in a league of their own and let down by a script that is second division at best.
Aardman had a open goal in front of them. Instead Early Man is sent for an early bath!

1 star

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Downsizing - review

There is a great movie somewhere in Downsizing. You just have to go looking for it... with a magnifying glass because it is buried deep in the heart of it and it does get overwhelmed and lost by the magnitude of the film's sci-fi proposition.
Downsizing does start very strongly indeed, with very big ideas as scientists discovering the technological process to reduce organic matter is size, with an eye to solving the problem of the world's overpopulation and consumption of natural resources.
Miniaturised colonies start springing up all over the world with humans "downsizing" to live a higher quality of life, as their money goes a lot further down there.
Matt Damon & Kristen Wiig play an a-typical American mid-western couple, struggling to get on the housing ladder in the "real" world. After visiting a high school reunion, they meet a couple of friends who made the move and discover they can live like millionaires and retire in LeisureLand: a Disneyland-style version of the perfect life. It IS a Small World after all!
The film is at its best during the first half of the movie as it deals with Damon and Wiig making the decision to change their lives (and bodies) forever.
There is a great deal of mileage to be run out of the social and economic satire provided by the scenario. The salespeople paint the image of a perfect lifestyle that helps the environment and doing their part to save the world but on the flip side, blue collar Americans chastise them for not providing enough to the US economy and should they retain the same rights if they are only 5 inches tall?
So it is disappointing that following a plot development at the mid-way point (sadly given away in the trailers) that could have provided the drive for the second half of the movie is forgotten in favour for staying in the downsized world.
Think about it. All of the great movies that have featured miniaturised people; Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Innerspace, Ant-Man, etc. The most memorable and exciting parts of the films have been seeing the tiny people interacting with the oversized environment around them.
It is admirable that Payne wanted to do something different, but it ultimately becomes another story about a man trying to find his place in the world and discovering that that brave new world is just like the real one. There is love, pain and despite the brochures painting the idyllic existence, the rich life the high life while the help live in poverty on the other side of a very tall wall (did Trump build Leisureland?).
Damon is nicely understated as everyman Paul Safranek to balance out Hong Chau's bold, brash Vietnamese refugee and the larger-than-life performance of Christoph Waltz as his new neighbour who introduces them to the hedonistic lifestyle afforded to them.
The final third of the film takes a drastic shift in plot and tone that while is somewhat in keeping with the big ideas set out at the beginning of the concept, it does little to advance the characters.
Ultimately the film is very much like the Downsizing procedure. Big on ideas and potential but the end product comes up short.

2 stars

Top Ten Things To See At Glasgow Film Festival 2018

Last night Glasgow Film Festival announced the full line up for this year and boy have that delivered once again.
Not only does the festival feature five of my 18 Most Anticipated Films of 2018 but over 330 events and screenings will take place in a variety of venues across the city including 13 World and European premieres, 77 UK premieres, 52 Scottish premieres and some incredibly special  event screenings.
The full brochure can be viewed and downloaded here but for now, here are my top ten screenings you should grab a ticket for when they go on sale at 10.00am on Monday 29th January*

*NB - not including the Opening Gala of Isle of Dogs as it is completely sold out!

Dawn Of The Dead
Sunday 25th February
1978's Dawn Of The Dead helped to define the zombie genre as we know it, as well as being a prescient social satire on consumerism. Glasgow Film Festival pride themselves on delivering some of the very best pop-up and interactive Event Cinema experiences each year and you can enjoy a 40th anniversary screening of this horror classic after evading zombies around the city centre in an interactive treasure hunt towards the film's secret location.

Die Hard
Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th February
The greatest Christmas film ever made is so good, you can even enjoy it in an office building in Glasgow in the middle of February. Welcome to the party pal!

Ghost Stories
Thursday 1st March
Frightfest returns to GFT for another two days of heart-pounding horror on the 2nd & 3rd March but it kicks off on the Thursday with the Scottish premiere of Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's terrifying screen adaptation of their chilling stage show Ghost Stories. Nyman & Dyson will be there to introduce the film and take part in a Q&A following the screening.

Groundhog Day
Thursday 22nd February - Saturday 3rd March
One of the most frustrating things about a festival is that a film will generally only have one or two screenings and the times may clash with something else so you will inevitably miss something you really want to see. Well #GFF18 have thought of a genius and elegant solution to seeing a classic film during the festival. Because Groundhog Day will play every day from 22nd February to 3rd March at same time in the same place!

In Person: Ben Wheatley
Sunday 4th March
GFF favourite Ben Wheatley returns to the festival where he has debuted Down Terrace, High-Rise and Free Fire. This year he doesn't have a film to premiere so instead expect a hugely entertaining interview and Q&A as he talks about his career to date.

Sunday 25th & Monday 26th February
Star of Alien, Repo Man and Pretty In Pink, Harry Dean Stanton was one of the finest character actors to ever grace the silver screen. Lucky is his final big screen performance and a fitting swansong to his immense talents and starring with his longtime collaborator David Lynch.

Sicilian Ghost Story
Thursday 1st & Friday 2nd March
A real-life Mafia kidnapping is transformed into a gothic, supernatural fantasy with echoes of Pan's Labyrinth as a young girl Luna attempts to find out what happened to her classmate Giuseppe when he is kidnapped by the Mafia to silence his father.

Surprise Film
Wednesday 28th February
Let the speculation begin! The annual surprise film screening always has people chipping in their two cents worth of opinions over what people might see. In the past the surprises have included The Voices, Love & Friendship and The Lost City Of Z. Personally, this year I'm thinking I, Tonya or The Leisure Seeker.

The Party's Just Beginning
Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th Febuary
Between filming the huge box office blockbusters Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and Avengers: Infinity War, the incredibly busy and talented Karen Gillan has found the time to write and direct her first feature film set in her hometown of Inverness. The story of a young woman coming to terms with the loss of a friend will debut at the festival with Gillan taking to the red carpet to introduce the film.

You Were Never Really Here
Friday 23rd & Saturday 24th February
Director Lynne Ramsay will receive a hero's welcome when she returns to her home town with her hard-boiled, brutal tale of Joaquin Phoenix's avenger Joe tasked with rescuing a Senator's daughter from the sex trade... by any means necessary.

Also bonus points for calling a strand of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian film Pure Baltic!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

When it comes to the Oscars, there is no such thing as a snub...

There is something that always bothers me about the 24 hour period after the Oscar nominations are announced. It happens every single year and this year is no different. Within hours of the announcements being made, the internet was awash with articles listing the "biggest snubs and surprises" of this year's nominations and it is the word snub that always riles me up.
The dictionary definition of snub is as follows:

Snub - "rebuff, ignore or spurn disdainfully" or "an act of rebuffing or ignoring someone or something"; "to insult someone by not giving them any attention or treating them as if they are not important"

This implies that a wilful intent to deliberately ignore the merits of a film or individual's contribution to that film but when it comes to the Oscars this is not really the case.
People do not go out of their way to actively campaign against someone getting a nomination and the system does not ask for members to vote against a person's performance.
If you want to look for something that cruelly mocks and rebuffs the efforts of filmmakers, then look no further than the Razzies e.g. mother! being nominated for multiple "awards".

Academy members are given one vote in each category to choose the single performance or work they were most impressed with. In certain categories, only members working in the same field may vote for their counterparts, as they are the most qualified to judge the work.

With 6687 members across a number of disciplines, it is an inevitability that some people will be overlooked or not even seen by everyone. No matter how much publicity certain films may receive or how many screeners are sent out.

So when a certain name is not read out during the nominations, it is not a snub. It is simply down to the fact they did not receive enough votes.

The more appropriate word would be "surprise" or "disappointment".

For example, it is deeply disappointing that Michael Stuhlbarg was not nominated for Call Me By Your Name. Particularly when you consider that he is in three of the nine nominated films for Best Picture. His monologue at the end of the film is beautiful and moving and the very definition of a supporting performance. Sadly he was up against strong performances from the five eventual nominees but also his co-star Armie Hammer who is the co-lead but placed in supporting category to avoid competing against Chalamet. Ultimately both missed out, potentially due to their votes being split between them.

Some of the names mentioned when it comes to the issue of today's "snubs" include Tom Hanks, The Florida Project, Wonder Woman, Martin McDonagh and James Franco.

Of these, the only one that could be considered a legitimate snub would be Franco. It is possible the negative news stories surrounding his sexual conduct put voters off, with the Academy keen to avoid any potential embarrassment on the night.
For everyone else, to complain about their omission from the list, implies that someone else who made the cut is not worthy of their spot. Can you say that, for example, Paul Thomas Anderson is not deserving of his Director nomination?

So when we talk about the Oscars, which is meant to be a celebration of film, let's stick to the positives and not the negatives.

Roll on March the 4th.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Oscars 2018 - Predicting the Nominations!

The Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow Tuesday 23rd January at 1:22pm and I thought it would be fun to try and predict who will be nominated in the main categories.

Best Picture

Best Picture is always a difficult one to accurately predict correctly ever since 2008 when The Dark Knight was shockingly left out of the nominations due to only having five nominees. I think we can all agree that it is a better film than all the nominees that year (Benjamin Button, The Reader, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire).
Ever since then there has been anywhere between 5 and 10 nominees depending on the number of votes received. Then when it comes to the final vote once the nominees are announced, the ballot is done on a preferential vote system with the films ranked by choice by the voter.

So, given this year's Awards race. Here are my thoughts on what will appear on the final list:

Call Me By Your Name
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Post
The Shape Of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Director

Del Toro, McDonagh and Nolan are all locks in this category. Given the current climate in Hollywood, there will be a riot if a woman isn't nominated given the fact that the likes of Bigelow, Coppola and Jenkins all produced quality films and so Gerwig's indie darling so produce a nomination.
The only question mark is Jordan Peele who might end up making way for a more established name like Steven Spielberg or Denis Villeneuve.

Guillermo Del Toro - The Shape Of Water
Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
Jordan Peele - Get Out

Best Actress

As far as this category goes, there are four guaranteed names on the list with the fifth and final place up for grabs (even if this is still going to be a slam dunk for Frances McDormand this year).
With her pedigree and role in The Post, it would surprise no one to see another nomination for Meryl Streep but the acting categories often throw up a wild card and I'm going out on a limb and say it will be Jessica Chastain for Molly's Game.

Jessica Chastain - Molly's Game
Sally Hawkins - The Shape Of Water
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie - I, Tonya
Saiorse Ronan - Lady Bird

Best Actor

Even though personally I wasn't that big a fan of his performance, the people of the Academy are pretty much already engraving Gary Oldman's name onto the Best Actor Oscar.
Chalamet's place is pretty much confirmed as well as he has been present and gracious runner up every step of the way. The Academy will not miss the opportunity to give Day Lewis a nomination for his final film. Although this must be the first time he will not be the favourite to win.
That leaves two places still to play for. Daniel Kaluuya has been consistently nominated for Get Out but I worry his performance is not "showy" enough for the academy and he might just miss out, opening the door for someone like Hanks or Washington. Similarly, having been a sure thing with the Globe win, Franco's place is on shaky ground given the recent new stories. However this was probably too late for the nomination process so expect his name to be read out.

Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day Lewis - Phantom Thread
James Franco - The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out
Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour

Best Supporting Actress

This the Oscar season where Mommy knows best with Janney and Metcalf's turns as the protagonist's mother guaranteed to be nominated and, given the SAG nomination, Hunter is likely to join them.
There is potential for a Wild Card entry in the form of Tiffany Haddish for Girls Trip. By all accounts it is a breakout star making performance and Melissa McCarthy was similarly nominated for Bridesmaids so there is form in this category.

Tiffany Haddish - Girls Trip
Holly Hunter - The Big Sick
Alison Janney - I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer - The Shape Of Water

Best Supporting Actor

The Oscar is Rockwell or Dafoe's to lose at this point but this is probably the most wide open category going into the nominations as the other three spots have varied from award to award. It is likely that Plummer's last minute replacement on All The Money In The World will score a nod.
That leaves the final two places as a fight between Woody Harrelson and the two men classified as Supporting Actor for Call Me By Your Name. Armie Hammer is one of the two lead characters in the film but placed here to avoid competing with Chalamet. This means that Stuhlbarg's pivotal supporting performance could potentially go unrewarded (which is a shame as his monologue at the end was one of the standout moments from 2017). He is also starring in 3 potential Best Picture nominees which hasn't happened since John C. Reilly in 2003.

Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Plummer - All The Money In The World
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Michael Stuhlbarg - Call Me By Your Name

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Adapted Screenplay

Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly's Game

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Commuter - review

Ah, the daily commute. It can become quite dull and routine can't it? You don't look forward to it but it is necessary for work. Doing the same thing day after day, one starts to hope one day something exciting or different might happen to alleviate the boredom.
But enough about Liam Neeson's film career since starring in Taken.
In The Commuter, Liam Neeson is man who is forced to do everything a mysterious, shadowy group of people tell him to do or his family will be hurt.
But enough about his film career since starring in Taken.
All joking aside, audiences go to these films expecting a certain type of film with a lead actor displaying a particular set of skills e.g. Neeson, The Stath, The Rock, etc.
This has resulted in some reviewers saying that they adjust their expectations and judgement accordingly.
Similar to a journey on Southern Rail, our expectations are deliberately low and with good reason. That doesn't mean however that we should let them off with bad service. This goes for genre films as well.
It is okay to give the audience what they want but there should be a benchmark for quality and they should strive to offer them something they haven't experienced before, or deliver it to them in a different, more exciting way.
So it is a shame that Neeson's character, after being threatened by a mysterious figure, is forced to uncover the identity of an unknown passenger in exactly the same plot as Non-Stop, although instead of a plane it is set on a train.
Also with Vera Farmiga as the one giving the orders, between this and Source Code, she is building a reputation as someone who loves to tell men what to do aboard commuter trains.
Like Non-Stop, there is mileage out of the central Guess Who game of spot the culprit. Is it Mike from Breaking Bad? Is it Lady Macbeth? Is it a stock broker played by Clem Fandango? Yes we can hear you Clem Fandango!
Sadly the film (literally) derails once the bad guy is revealed and that, along with a farcical scene replicating one of the most famous moments from a gladiator film, are moments so clearly signposted and as predictable as the stops along your route home.
Guess now we can look forward to Taken in a taxi in a couple of years so Neeson can complete his unique Planes, Trains and Automobiles trilogy.

2 stars

The Post - review

Picture the scene. An angry, irate President of the United States is on his phone, badmouthing and threatening the nation's newspapers for publishing stories that show their decision making, character and government in bad light.

Ah, it's almost too easy isn't it.

Back in 1971, The Pentagon Papers scandal, 7000 pages of classified government documents that proved that a number of administrations had deceived the American people about the Vietnam war, saw the owner and editor of The Washington Post put everything on the line to fight for their rights under the first amendment and freedom of press. Not only to keep their paper going but for the rights of all newspapers.
Astoundingly, this is a fight that is still going on today in the era of "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts". Now, more than ever, the papers still have a duty and an obligation to hold our governments accountable. Because as editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) says "If we don't, who will?"
The decision to publish ultimately lies with the owner of the paper, Katherine "Kay" Graham (Meryl Streep) who has taken over the running of the family business. Originally passed over in favour of her husband, she assumed the role following his tragic death.
The Post might not win the big awards this year but it would certainly win the title of Most Socially Relevant Film of 2018. Even though it is based on historical fact, you couldn't have scripted a more timely and important film for the times we live in. For not only is the integrity and freedom of the press under attack but with the current #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the role of women in society and business is going through a period of tremendous change.
When the audience is first introduced to Kay, she is not seen as an equal by the entirely male members of the board. She has men talking over her or mansplained to on a constant basis.
Yet she finds the resolve to take ownership of her paper and decides to publish the story, no matter the cost.
Sarah Paulson, as Bradlee's wife, gives an affective and moving speech about Graham's bravery in standing up to the board and choosing to run the paper in her own way and how hard it must have been.
"When you've been told time and time again that you are not there, it's hard to believe that's not true"
It's a quote that is still resonant today and it can be applied to the woman who have courageously chosen to stand up and hold men accountable for their actions.
The most shocking thing about The Post is not the fact that some 46 years on, we are still having the same arguments about the freedom of the press or that men find the idea of a female boss astounding.
No, the most surprising fact about The Post is that it is the first time that Spielberg, Streep and Hanks have worked together. This dream team coasts along, all within their comfort zone, and while they might not be firing on all cylinders, even an average day for this trip is a great day for cinema and ultimately delivers a stirring ode to the power of the press, a wonderful nostalgic look at the old school methods that reporters had to use to find their sources and publish the news (there was no Google and no internet). It's little wonder that there are so many scenes of people anxiously waiting on or receiving phone calls.
One even wonders if Tom Hanks himself supplied all the vintage typewriters used in the Washington Post offices?
It reminds us that we have come on leaps and bounds since the Seventies but there is still a lot of vital work to do. As evidence by the final scenes where a woman is relaying the Supreme Court's verdict that "Freedom of press for the governed not the Governors", only to be shouted over by a man who has received the information by fax!
It is also admirable that Spielberg ends the film with a scene that could have served as a post credit sting setting up the Watergate scandal and a Washington Post Extended Universe linking to All The President's Men.

4 stars

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Darkest Hour - review

That Dunkirk spirit is well and truly alive and in full force at the moment in the UK. Following 2017's Their Finest and Christopher Nolan's cinematic masterpiece Dunkirk last July, it seems that filmmakers are not heeding Basil Fawlty's advice and can stop mentioning the war!
For Darkest Hour which shows what was happening across the channel as the men waited, and waited, for their salvation and evacuation.
Not only is Dunkirk the flavour of the month but this is the third screen characterisation of Winston Churchill in the last 12 months, following Brian Cox's Churchill and John Lithgow's portrayal in The Crown.
Churchill is so popular at the moment, don't be surprised if you see a feature length adaptation of the Churchill nodding dog put into production by the end of the week!
Director Joe Wright also returns to the issue of Dunkirk, 10 years on from filming that incredible single take tracking shot of James McAvoy and the troops on the beach in Atonement. However there is very little of that inventiveness and bravura filmmaking style on show here. It sadly falls into the trap that many biopics of British subjects and heroes can fall into, in that it feels more like a Sunday night BBC drama than a film destined to be enjoyed on the big screen. Yes, I'm talking about you The King's Speech (and on that topic, I much preferred Ben Mendelsohn's take on George VI than Firth's).
The only time the visual flair exhibited in the dance sequence in Pride & Prejudice and every frame of Atonement and Anna Karenina came into view was the shots of Churchill in lifts surrounding by darkness or peering through windows, slowly increasing his sense of isolation from the cabinet and imprisonment within his belief to do what he believes is right for the British people.
The film does capture how alone Churchill was in his stance against the impending pressures of Nazi Germany, feeling like he was one man against the world.
The film is perhaps too effective at this however as ultimately Darkest Hour is a two hour drama built on the foundation of one performance of bluster and bravado by Gary Oldman.
From the first time we see Churchill, Oldman disappears beneath the prosthetics and costume to completely embody the British Bulldog, and stomps, shouts and chews as much scenery as he does cigars that no one else can barely register an impact on screen. Even the great Kristin Scott Thomas gets left in the shadows as his wife Clemmie.
Rather than a big screen adaptation, Oldman's Churchill might have been better suited to a one man show on the West End where he performed some of his greatest speeches to a captive audience.
While there is no denying Winston's impact and legacy on British history, the Darkest Hour is unlikely to be the brightest moment in the history books of Oldman and British cinema. Even if it does bring him a shiny golden Oscar.

2 stars

Monday, 15 January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - review

In Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, everyone in Ebbing has an opinion on the titular billboards erected by Mildred Hayes, never mind if they have actually seen them or not.
The same can be said for the film itself. Arriving in UK cinemas on the crest of a wave that includes 4 Golden Globes, 9 BAFTA nominations, expected Oscar nominations and posters and billboards with these facts plastered all over them, it is difficult to go into the movie without some preconceptions.
Thankfully this is one film that lives up to the (most of) the hype and still has plenty of surprises as the much of the plot has not been given away by the trailers (although many of the best lines have).
The trailer paints the film as a dark, acerbic comedy in the mould of In Bruges however it is more of a drama with darkly comic lines in it. Both deal with grief and loss but this is much darker material. And yes I know In Bruges dealt with an assassin who killed a kid.
The three billboards erected by Mildred Hayes, criticising the lack of arrests in the case of her daughter's murder, puts her on a direct collision course with two of the town's police officers cool, calm and collected Chief Willoughby and hot-headed, impestuous and racist Lt. Dixon.
These towering billboards are met by three equally towering performances from Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, each deserving of a billboard of their own singing their praises and of the award nominations that have met them along the way.
McDonagh's scripts, much like his plays, can produce dialogue that can become endlessly quotable but also a weapon in the right hands, capable of wounding and destroying a character with a single line.
In Bruges proved this with Ralph Fiennes, who up to that point had rarely done comedy on screen, and showed Colin Farrell to be a terrific actor given the right material.
All three leads in this film are more than a match for the material and deliver it with venomous aplomb.
The majority of the praise will deservedly go to McDormand who is in career best form as a mother consumed by grief, regret and rage. They say "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" and no one is safe from the billowing rage that takes hold of Hayes. Even those kind souls who try to help her like Peter Dinklage's James.
Harrelson plays against type, both for what we expect a Southern cop to be and also what we would expect from Harrelson's back catalogue of characters. The result is a moving, compassionate performance of a man desperately trying to do the right thing by everybody.
Compassion is a word that certainly cannot be used when describing Sam Rockwell's Officer Dixon. A complicated and unpleasant individual, he should not be deserving of any sympathy or empathy yet it is down to the skill of Rockwell that he can elicit these feelings from the audience as the film progresses, despite their initial resistance.
For the film certainly does not take the easy way out. It will challenge the characters and the audience, taking several intriguing and unexpected turns down the road.
McDonagh is not interested in spoon feeding the audience and giving them the easy answers they seek.
Because at the heart of the story, it is not about redemption or closure but the futility and impotence of rage. Everyone is raging against something but ultimately they must ask themselves if it helps solve anything. Or as one character sagely puts it does "Anger just begets anger".
The film is not without its flaws. Abbie Cornish's character is given short shrift and there is one of the worst uses of CGI you are likely to see in a mainstream movie this year.
This is offset however by the biggest crime in the film which is attempted theft by Samara Weaving who threatens to steal the entire film in just two scenes.
Three Billboards is a terrific film that proves Martin McDonagh has found his groove again following the missteps taken in Seven Psychopaths and is likely to follow the success of the Golden Globes with a BAFTA or Oscar or two. After all "Awards just begets Awards".

4 stars

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Coco - review

The arrival of a new Pixar film is usually something to look forward to. After all, this is the studio that brought us Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles and Up. This is a studio that brought us incredible and original ideas like "What if your toys could talk?", a movie from the perspective of your emotions or a silent film starring a robot left on earth to clear up garbage. We'll just skip over Cars for now...
So why was it that Coco did not seem to be generating the same level of Joy in this Pixar fan's mind? Why didn't Coco Pop?!
On paper, it ticked all the boxes: Gorgeous animation, excellent voice cast, Pixar easter eggs plus the ability to tug on the heartstrings in a way only Pixar can.
Yet the end result left me rather dead inside. Just like the deceased members of Miguel's family I guess.
The story revolves around young Miguel. Born into a family who make shoes and have banned music due to a family tragedy, yet something deep inside him yearns to play the guitar.
A shocking discovery on the Day of the Dead leads to a fight with his family, a curse that transports him to the Land of the Dead and a quest to find his great, great, great Grandfather Ernesto De La Cruz, the greatest singer in all of Mexico.
The film plays on the importance of family and memory. Particularly the use that music can have in stimulating memory. In fact, there is a lot of work being done in this area in real life with dementia sufferers.
It also encourages us to keep the memories of those who we have loved and lost in our hearts and minds so they are never forgotten. It is this that forms the emotional core of the film and slowly the film turns on its head and the reason the film is called Coco, rather than Miguel, comes to the fore.
The problem was that with all the talk of memories and the trailer's claim to explore a world you've never seen before, it brought flooding back the memories of the 2014 film The Book of Life, produced by Guillermo Del Toro which featured a love story set in both the land of the living and of the dead and was a superior film to Coco.
It is difficult to be too critical of Coco however because despite its lack of originality, one cannot fault it's execution as come the final scenes, Pixar had once again worked its magic and despite my general feelings of indifference, managed to tug on the right guitar strings to feel a twang of emotion.

NB: Note that there is no Pixar short in front of the feature due to the selected short Olaf's Frozen Adventure being pulled from the US prints due to length, confusion and quality. Instead it played in front of special Christmas screenings of Frozen here in the UK.

3 stars

Saturday, 13 January 2018

My Most Anticipated 18 of 2018

With the Golden Globes now behind us, the BAFTA nominations just announced and the Oscars heading our way, it is safe to say that we are firmly in the grip of Awards season in the cinematic calendar.
But what about when the dust settles and the last award is handed out... *whispers* to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. What then? What do we all have to look forward to in 2018 at the cinema? Or indeed at home with original content on Netflix et all?
I have looked through the 2018 film slate on Launching Films UK, a great website for anyone looking for confirmed release dates for films getting a cinema release in the UK, and kept tabs on Netflix Originals and have come up with 18 films to tantalise your cinematic tastebuds this year.
(The only stipulation is that they cannot have been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA or Oscar as the majority of them are released in January or early February. Hence why Three Billboards and The Shape Of Water are not on the list).
NB: The list is in chronological order of UK release date.

Black Panther (13/2/18) 

The MCU is always taking risks. Remember the time when they had a space adventure headlined by a talking raccoon and tree monster soundtracked to the hits of the seventies? Marvel Studios have now done Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Political Thriller, Heist Movie and Comedy. True, they still haven’t done a female led movie but now it is Blaxploitation time with Black Panther.
When the first trailer hit, you could split the audience demographic into two groups: the ones who saw a LOTR reunion of Bilbo and Gollum (aka white people) and everyone else!
The risk has paid off with Panther selling more advance tickets than Civil War. 2018 is the year of #BlackMoviesMatter.

Annihilation (23/2/18)

There is still some confusion over the UK release of Annihilation as to whether it will be on Netflix or a cinematic release through Paramount but Alex Garland’s follow up to his Oscar-winning Ex_Machina looks like it should be experienced on the big screen if possible.
Assembling an all-star cast with Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson and Natalie
Portman as the biologist who signs up for a exploration mission to discover what happened to her
husband. Anyone who has ever watched a sci-fi film with this premise will know that when it comes to
describing how the mission goes, the likely answer is: not well. Not well for the characters but great for
the audience.

Mute (23/2/18)

This film was actually on my most anticipated list of 2017 but it finally looks as if though Netflix are ready to screen Duncan Jones’s spiritual sequel to Moon and loving ode to films like Blade Runner and
Casablanca to the masses.
Duncan recently announced on Twitter that after 14 years of trying to get it made, audiences will finally get to see his vision realised on the big screen (well I say "big", it really depends on the size of your TV screen to be honest) on the 23rd February.

The Meg (2/3/18)

Definitely the most ridiculous film on this list, The Meg’s inclusion here can be summed up in five words: The Stath versus Giant Shark! Cue Futurama Shut Up And Take My Money meme!

Thoroughbreds (9/3/18)

Anya Taylor-Joy is a star on the rise and this film has a great Millenial Heathers vibe to it with the added bonus of the opportunity to see Anton Yelchin’s last on-screen performance following his tragic death in 2016.

You Were Never Really Here (9/3/18)

Joaquin Phoenix as a New York-set action hero in the vein of Taken and John Wick but directed by Lynne Ramsay and scored by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood? Say no more.

Isle Of Dogs (30/3/18)

A new Wes Anderson film is always reason for excitement but when it is another stop motion animation in the vein of the wonderful adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox and it’s announced that it will open the Glasgow Film Festival on 21st February, excitement levels reach a huge Ca-Nine out of Ten.

Journeyman (30/3/18)

When it comes to this sports drama, it certainly won’t be the British Rocky but more akin to the Southpaw or Warrior in terms of the effect that the sport can have on a family.
Paddy Considine directs and stars in this film which has apparently had critics weeping in the aisles during the credits and it is no real surprise given the talent shown with his equally hard-hitting directorial debut Tyrannosaur.

Ready Player One (30/3/18)

As a child of the Eighties, the novel Ready Player One was tailor-made to appeal to me and I loved the story which was the “Holy Grail of Pop Culture references” so I’m interested in seeing how it translates to the big screen. It has the most iconic film director of the Eighties at the helm in the form of Steven Spielberg but given he has taken out all the references to his own films (and there were many) it is likely to differ quite heavily from the source material and that could be a ultimately be a good thing when it comes to making a VR quest more cinematic.

A Quiet Place (6/4/18) 

A Quiet Place is a film, ironically enough, that I had heard nothing about until a trailer dropped at the end of last year. A wonderfully atmospheric teaser of a family living in a cabin in the woods and forced to live in silence for fear of an unseen terror. It is a fantastic concept along the lines of 2016’s Don’t Breathe but the real draw of this is the pairing of real-life husband and wife team of John Krasinski and Emily Blunt. Plus the added shock at the end of the trailer to find it has been written and directed by Krasinski himself.
As Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained would say “You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention!”

Ghost Stories (20/4/18)

A great horror movie experienced in a cinema with a receptive crowd that responds to the will of the filmmaker and jump, scream and shout as intended is a marvellous thing to be a part of.
So if the film adaptation of Ghost Stories plays anywhere as near as well as it does on stage, then this could be THE breakout British horror film of the year.
Expecting that certain elements of the storytelling will change for the medium of cinema but very, very excited to see this play at the Glasgow Film Festival in February.

Avengers: Infinity War (27/4/18) 

In a year with no shortage of superhero films (The New Mutants, Deadpool 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Ant-Man & The Wasp and Aquaman), the daddy of them all is Infinity War.
This is the film that the MCU has been building too ever since Nick Fury told Tony Stark about the Avengers Initiative back in the post-credit sting of Iron Man in 2008.
Also excited to see the Scarlet Witch/Vision storyline set in Edinburgh on the big screen having visited the city during filming and witnessed some of the action being shot on the Royal Mile and Waverley Railway Station.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (8/6/18)

Yes, the first trailer which features the team returning to the island to round up the dinosaurs to take them back to the mainland makes it seem very similar to The Lost World but the director has made assurances that everything in the trailer takes place in the first 50 minutes and it will go to places you won’t expect.
I for one really enjoyed Jurassic World and the real excitement for the film for me, is the director J.A. Bayona who has made the incredible The Orphanage and The Impossible. I will be running in high heels to the cinema to see this one.

Ocean's 8 (22/6/18) 

This is going to be one of the most interesting film releases of 2018 without a doubt. With the current movement in Hollywood towards equality for women in terms of opportunity and pay, there will be a lot of focus on how this all-female sequel/reboot of Ocean’s Eleven will do at the box office.
For there is the spectre of the female Ghostbusters reboot hanging over the film (however I don’t think the male fanbase for Ocean’s Eleven is as vocal or as nasty and mysogynistic). On the flip side, Sandra Bullock is a proven box office draw and despite what Hollywood claims about what audiences want to watch, the Top 3 films at the US Box Office in 2017 had female leads (Star Wars, Beauty & The Beast and Wonder Woman).

Sicario 2: Soldado (29/6/18)

The original Sicario is a film that stands alone as a five star classic (I will continue to say that Denis Villeuneuve, from Prisoners to Blade Runner 2049, has never delivered anything less than a 5 star classic. With streak of 5 films and counting that no other director can currently match).
At the end of the film, I don’t think anyone came out of it saying “I need the sequel now”.
The real drugs war in America however is still continuing and may never be truly over and so the studio have decided to continue the Sicario universe. Emily Blunt was the main character and entry into this world in the original but the sequel focuses on the supporting characters of Josh Brolin’s CIA agent and Benicio Del Toro’s Oscar nominated assassin and with Taylor Sheridan (Hell And High Water, Wind River) returning to script detail, anticipation is as high as the people on the drugs they are trying to eliminate.

The Predator (3/8/18) 

I am going to come out and say it. There has not been a good Alien or Predator film since 1992. In fact, there has not been a great Predator film since 1987. Even more specifically, the only great Predator film starred Shane Black. And the fact that Shane Black has written and directed The Predator does give me hope for this sequel because I absolutely loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys. If he can generate the same level of camaraderie and dialogue from his films and put that into the Predator universe along with some terrific action sequences, we might have reason to shout “RUN, GO. GET TO THE CINEMA!”

Halloween (19/10/18)

I didn’t expect to have a reboot/remake on this list, especially a remake of one of the most greatest and most influential horror films of all time but this one has me rather intrigued.
When David Gordon Green and Danny McBride (the people behind Your Highness) announced they were making a sequel/reboot of Halloween was announced, there was much eye-rolling and snobbery on Twitter.
However when it was announced that this would be a sequel to Halloween II and would forget the other films, eyebrows were raised. Then they announced Jamie Lee Curtis was returning as Laurie Strode and John Carpenter himself would score the film, this suddenly peaked my interest and am genuinely looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Holmes & Watson (9/11/18)

Full disclaimer: I am a HUGE fan of Step Brothers, so any opportunity to see Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play off each other on screen is an immediate date in my diary, even if the world isn't screaming out for another adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. But add in support from Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie (who can both do comedy), then this could be one of the surprises of 2018… or it could be another Anchorman 2. The game is afoot!

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

All The Money In The World - review

In 1973, J. Paul Getty, the richest man in the world, was faced with a scandal - his grandson Paul was kidnapped by a gang of Italian criminals and held to ransom - and when asked what he would pay to solve the problem, he simply replied "nothing".
The film All The Money In The World, follows the trials and tribulations of Paul's mother Abigail (played with sympathy and strength by Michelle Williams) as she spent months battling an empire and the mob when all she wanted was her son back.
In November of last year, Sir Ridley Scott was put in a similar position when his film was rocked by the Kevin Spacey scandal. Threatened with having a film that would be tarnished by his reputation, that could be pulled from distribution and ruining the hard work of thousands of people on the production, Scott wasted no time in declaring his intent to save his film, whatever the cost. For Scott would attempt the impossible, with a release date of 18th December, he would reshoot all the scenes with original choice for Getty, Christopher Plummer, re-edit the film and release it on date - in just four weeks.
And he only went and delivered on his promise!
It is safe to say that for many people in the industry and those who follow the news, All The Money In The World is now less of a film and more of a statement. A cautionary tale to everyone in Hollywood during the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, that there is a shift in attitudes now and that people will be held accountable for their actions and that even after filming, you can and will be replaced if necessary.
But what of the finished film? Is it any good? Or does that even matter any more? Is anyone going to see the movie for the story or are they now just going to see if they can spot the joins, for a chance to see if they can spot the man behind the curtain frantically trying to hold it all together?
Well, early reports of the figure of Getty playing a minor role were false, as he is an integral character to the plot and even when not on screen, his presence looms over everyone, driving their every move and motivation.
Even with only nine days to prepare, Christopher Plummer seems like he was always meant to play Getty. He has a charisma, charm and menace that make it, ironically, impossible to imagine anyone else in the role and for the most part, his inclusion in the film is seamless.

The only time the switch is really visible is some slightly sub-par CGI during the Saudi desert scenes where Plummer has clearly been placed over Spacey, but to be fair that would have been the most expensive to reshoot.
It is easy to see why he has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor awards recently. While he is unlikely to win given he is up against stronger performances in the category from the likes of Dafoe and Rockwell, to deliver what he did in nine days (at the age of 88) under the circumstances, it is a great story and Hollywood loves a drama and the ability to spin it to its own ends.
As you would come to expect from a Ridley Scott film, it looks like a million bucks (or should that be a billion dollars?), sadly however the film plods along rather undramatically. Like Getty and his negotiations, the film takes its time and it approaches the end of its 132 minutes, you can’t help but feel like Paul Getty and his mother Abigail would have done and wish that the whole ordeal was over and done with.
So ultimately an unremarkable film was provided with a truly remarkable behind-the-scenes story which will ultimately guarantee it a wider audience and a fair share of awards and nominations which ironically proves that All The Money In The World can buy you success!

3 stars

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Golden Globe Predictions 2018

The Golden Globes are this Sunday and it is time for my annual attempt at predicting the winners. This year more than any will be difficult to do as the majority of the films have not yet received a UK release, which means that I will have to rely on guess work rather than actual opinion in most cases... although public opinion and critics views often can amount to nothing when it comes to the Globes!

Expect the ceremony and speeches to be more important and talked about than the actual results.

Best Picture - Drama

  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Dunkirk
  • The Post
  • The Shape Of Water - WINNER
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Post is the most topical film but The Shape Of The Water is the most nominated film on the night so my vote goes to Del Toro's unconventional love story.

Best Picture - Comedy or Musical

  • The Disaster Artist
  • Get Out - WINNER
  • The Greatest Showman
  • I, Tonya
  • Lady Bird

The Globe will come down to two of the best reviewed films Lady Bird and Get Out. Get Out is "The Martian" of the category and this could tip the odds in its favour so expect it to win on the night.

Best Actress - Drama

  • Jessica Chastain - Molly's Game
  • Sally Hawkins - The Shape Of Water
  • Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - WINNER
  • Meryl Streep - The Post
  • Michelle Williams - All The Money In The World

Hawkins is the front runner on paper but expect McDormand's foulmouthed tour-de-force performance to scoop the gong.

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical

  • Judi Dench - Victoria & Abdul
  • Margot Robbie - I, Tonya - WINNER
  • Saiorse Ronan - Lady Bird
  • Emma Stone - Battle Of The Sexes
  • Helen Mirren - The Leisure Seeker

Dames Mirren and Dench don't stand a chance but receive their obligatory nominations anyway. The odds are in favour of Saiorse Ronan but I have a feeling Margot Robbie will sweep in with a crowbar and take the victory from under Ronan's feet.

Best Actor - Drama
  • Timothee Chalamet - Call Me By Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis - Phantom Thread
  • Tom Hanks - The Post
  • Gary Oldman - The Darkest Hour - WINNER
  • Denzel Washington - Roman J. Israel, Esq
I could see the Globes giving the award to Day-Lewis as a glorious farewell, if the rumours of retirement are true, but the money seems to be on Oldman's cigar and scenery-chewing turn as Churchill which wins the bonus points of playing a real life person.

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical

  • Steve Carell - Battle Of The Sexes
  • Ansel Elgort - Baby Driver
  • James Franco - The Disaster Artist - WINNER
  • Hugh Jackman - The Greatest Showman
  • Daniel Kaluuya - Get Out

Can't see anyone but Franco taking this one due to his total commitment of transforming into Tommy Wiseau.

Best Director

  • Guillermo Del Toro - The Shape Of Water - WINNER
  • Martin McDonagh - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Nolan - Dunkirk
  • Ridley Scott - All The Money In The World
  • Steven Spielberg - The Post

Given the current political climate in Hollywood, it would be tempting for them to award Ridley Scott for managing to recast and reshoot Spacey's role in just a few weeks before release, but I think that Del Toro will take the prize.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Mary J. Blige - Mudbound
  • Hong Chau - Downsizing
  • Alison Janney - I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf - Lady Bird - WINNER
  • Octavia Spencer - The Shape Of Water

I haven't seen any of these films so going to have to go with the popular opinion on this one with Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird but Janney could run her close from what I have seen in the trailers for I, Tonya.

Best Supporting Actor

  • Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
  • Armie Hammer - Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins - The Shape Of Water
  • Christopher Plummer - All The Money In The World - WINNER
  • Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
This is a year where Dafoe, Rockwell or Hammer could easily win and be worthy winners but I can't see anyone but Plummer winning due to the incredible story that goes with his late replacement taking over from Spacey.

Best Original Score

  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • The Shape Of Water
  • Phantom Thread
  • The Post
  • Dunkirk - WINNER
Fully expect Hans Zimmer's score that drives the entire movie forward and had audiences' knuckles turning white with tension to win.

Best Screenplay
  • The Shape Of Water
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - WINNER
  • Molly's Game
Not surprised to see Sorkin nominated but McDonagh's scripts are always incredibly quotable so Three Billboards will win One Globe.

Best Foreign Language Film
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • First They Killed My Father
  • In The Fade
  • Loveless
  • The Square - WINNER
Having not seen any of the nominated films, picking the winner of the Palme D'Or The Square.

Best Animated Film
  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Ferdinand
  • Coco
  • Loving Vincent - WINNER
Going for a punt with Loving Vincent. Not your traditional nominee but would be a worthy winner.